The William McLachlan farmhouse is significant because it is a particularly good example of the small “homestead” farmhouse which was atypical in Mormon settlement areas, where the “farm-village” system of in-town residence coupled with daily commuting to surrounding agricultural areas was generally favored. However, isolated farmsteads did begin to occur in Utah in the 1870’s following the arrival of the general land office. The practice received further impetus in the 1880 ‘s when many polygamists
reputedly built homes in out-of-the-way places to shelter plural wives from the raids of the federal “polygamy .hunters”. While there are written and folklore references to this practice, the McLachlan farmhouse is exceptional in the completeness of the documentation of actual construction and of the events that brought it about. The house type is unusual, and the only one known in the Salt Lake Valley region of “over Jordan”.
William McLachlan was born in Thornhill, Dumfrieshire , Scotland, in 1840. Trained as a carpenter and contractor, McLachlan converted to the Mormon Church and immigrated to America in 1863. He was clerk of the Church emigrant company aboard the ship Amazon, assigned to keep a historical record o£ the group. This interest in record keeping persisted throughout his life, as did his high level of activity in the Mormon Church … serving as President of the mission in New Zealand (1875-77) and later as President of the Pioneer Stake.
McLachlan was a polygamist, and like many of the less wealthy polygamists of the period, extremely distressed by the consequences of anti-polygamy raids. In order that his wives not be left penniless should he be arrested and imprisoned, McLachlan purchased land and built this home in a then-remote area “over Jordan”. When it was completed in March 1885 it became home for Maggie Naismith, his second wife, and her five children. McLachlan himself vanished into the underground” for nearly eight years. Part of the time he was employed as a carpenter on the Manti temple and used his earnings there to support his families. His wives were visited as
often as it was safe, and Margaret received title to her house in 1886 to protect her and her husband from loss of property should he be caught and prosecuted. Fortunately, McLachlan was never brought to trial.